TEHRAN, Iran – Iran’s official news agency says the country’s judiciary has issued indictments against 15 ‘American and Zionist’ spies.
IRNA on Tuesday quoted Tehran’s chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi as saying the suspects carried out espionage activities against Iran.
He did not elaborate on the nationality of the suspects, nor say when they were detained.
The report does not say whether the suspects include any of the 12 alleged agents that Tehran said in November had been arrested for ties to the American CIA, Israel’s Mossad and regional intelligence agencies.
This just days after Iranian TV broadcasted footage of an advanced US drone aircraft that Tehran says it brought down using electronic methods to override its controls.
The film was captioned “RQ170 – advanced US spy plane” and carried on the Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 1 channel.
Iran’s Press TV said that the Iranian army’s “electronic warfare unit” brought down the drone on 4 December as it was flying over the city of Kashmar.
Brig General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace unit, told Iranian media that the drone “fell into the trap” of the unit “who then managed to land it with minimum damage”.
He said Iran was “well aware of what priceless technological information” could be gleaned from the aircraft.
Nato said at the weekend that an unarmed reconnaissance aircraft had been flying a mission over western Afghanistan late last week when its operators lost control of it.
Pentagon officials have said they are concerned about Iran possibly acquiring information about the technology.
Iranian media said on Thursday that the foreign ministry had summoned the Swiss envoy to express its “strongest protest over the invasion of a US spy drone deep into its airspace”.
Washington has no diplomatic relations with Iran and US affairs in the country are dealt with via the Swiss embassy in Tehran.
A statement said the ministry had asked for an immediate explanation and had demanded compensation from Washington.
A report in The New York Times on Thursday said the “stealth” drone had been part of a US surveillance programme mapping Iran’s suspected nuclear sites.
The US and its allies suspect Iran of secretly trying to build a nuclear weapon – something Tehran strongly denies.
A recent report by the UN’s nuclear watchdog said Iran had carried out tests “relevant to the development of a nuclear device”.
Washington and Israel have not ruled out military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities if sanctions and diplomacy fail.
Iran has vowed to respond by attacking Israeli and US interests in the region.